Eco-Mentor Training in Botswana – August 2018

Lisa Witherden, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Environmental Education Resource Developer, visited Botswana in August to run Eco-Mentor Training. Read her report below.

Lesh Moiteela, Gaba Modirapula and Kelly Baitshoki – our wonderful Botswana Team – organised the logistics of the training. From Maun, we travelled up to Gunotsoga Village, a ten hour drive and a hop over the Okavango River on a ferry. We stayed in the beautiful Gunotsoga Cultural Village, right on the borders of Gunotsoga Village. Being only 400m from the river, we could hear hippos grunting, and our evenings sitting around the fire where filled with beautiful birds settling down for the night and elephants crunching on Mopani trees.  

It was the perfect setting for our Eco-Mentor Training, where 22 enthusiastic teachers from Gunotsoga, Seronga, Gudigwa and Beetsha Primary Schools participated in lessons from the CITW Eco-Club Resource Book. We started off with a refresher on what CITW is, and how we do things. Our Eco-Clubs have been running in these villages since 2006, so most of the teachers have been exposed to our programme and are running Eco-Clubs in their schools every Wednesday.

The training was interactive, where I taught the Mentors as I would teach the lessons to our Eco-Club Members. We started each lesson with an energiser or a song, everyone’s favourite being ‘I’m alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic’. From there, we cover a theoretical lesson on a specific topic, either a life skills or environmental education lesson. A practical component to the lesson is then conducted, before we have a debrief and discuss what we have covered and learnt in the lesson.

From climate change, respect, the web of life, food chains, animal adaptations, the water cycle and Tippy Taps, our Mentors had the best time, getting stuck into the learnings, asking challenging questions, taking furious notes and showing that you are never too much of an adult to have a bit of fun!

We finished off the day with a discussion on possible project ideas which the Mentors could implement in their Eco-Clubs and communities. CITW Botswana is currently running a tree planting project which they’ve called ‘Greening the Delta’, so we talked about the ins and outs of this, as well as why this project is so important. We also looked at making Eco-Bricks from plastic waste, in order to not only clean up communities, but make useful items such as benches, walls and furniture, which would serve a practical purpose in schools and community settings.

Back to Maun, and another full day of training with Tubu, Habu, Shashe and Sankuyo Primary Schools. This training was held in the Wilderness Safaris office in Maun, with a more intimate group of nine teachers. We followed the same programme structure as in Gunotsoga, and I was again blown away by the positive responses, inputs, enthusiasm and challenging questions from our Mentors.

All in all, the training was extremely positive and constructive. It was wonderful to have the Mentors comment that they will not only take home learnings on our actual lessons, but also teaching techniques which they are excited to implement in their own classrooms.

Watch this space for reports on how our Eco-Clubs in Botswana are Greening the Delta!